Mormon Newsroom
News Release

Bringing Mobility to the Disabled

Church Donates Wheel Chairs to Those in Need in Uganda

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has donated 270 wheel chairs to Uganda through a partnership between its humanitarian arm, "LDS Charities", and the Uganda Wheel Chair Committee.

At the Kololo Cultural Center of the Church, the wheel chairs were handed over in a ceremony attended by the undersecretary Ministry of Health Mr. Ssegawa Ronald Gyagenda, who stood in for the permanent secretary.  

Special guests included Hon. Nalule safia Juuko, National representative for People with Disabilities in Parliament, Hon. Alex Ndeezi parliamentary representative for People with Disabilities from central region, James Kisambira Head of Orthopedic Mulago referral hospital and several others.

The ceremony was also a culmination of a one week training workshop in which clinicians and technicians from over 13 referral hospitals and medical institutions around the country were trained on how to customize the wheel chairs to the needs of each individual user. It was noted that issuing a disabled person with a wrong wheel chair was worse that no wheel chair at all.

Speaking at the function, Mr. Ssegawa  said the government takes seriously the issue of disability in Uganda. He said as far back as 1961 the government established a workshop to handle wheel chairs. However the program was affected by the political turmoil that the country went through. He however said the government is now embarking on reactivation of this workshop and expressed appreciation to the Church for joining to help in the objective the government is trying to achieve. He asked the technicians  and users to maintain the chairs so that if ever more chairs were received from any sources they would add to the number, rather than replace previously issued chairs.

The member of parliament for disability Hon. Nalule thanked the LDS Church  for donating the wheel chairs. She said the wheel chairs would help people with disabilities become self reliant as they increase mobility.

She noted that the wheel chairs restore the integrity of the disabled people because rather than crawl on the road and reach their destinations dirty they can reach their destinations cleaner. She used the opportunity to request government to create independent budgets for the orthopedic workshops in hospitals. She was happy to report that through the efforts of parliament there was now an article which makes it imperative for stake holder to create a budget for disabled persons in the country.

She particularly thanked the Church for going the extra mile to ensure that besides donating the chairs, the chairs were being adjusted and customized to each individual user. She highlighted some major needs that still affect disablied persons, especially women, such as lack of accessible labor ward beds.

In his speech read for him by the undersecretary Ministry of Health, the permanet secretary said; 
“The Ministry of Health is pleased to cooperate with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This is the third time the Church has donated and facilitated wheel chair training in Uganda". He continued, "With the partnership, the ministry can achieve more and provide better services to our members of society. The wheel chair is a very vital device because it restores one’s ability to move from one place to another in dignity."

He further said the demand for wheel chairs in the country was still on the rise because of accidents and certain diseases. Citing research conducted by the Uganda National Action for Physical Disability, about one and a half million Ugandans require wheel chairs.

The reaserch further indicated that only 3% of the people who require wheel chairs actually access them, and even the few that access them do not receive appropriate wheel chairs. This he said is mainly due to lack of skills to fit the chairs appropriately and the non ajustable chairs provided by some donors and others. He said it was the role of all trained to ensure that the people receive appropriate wheel chairs. He thanked the Mormon Church for the training to increase the skills for assessment, treating and maintenance of the wheel chairs.

Elder Hunter, a volunteer representative of the Church who is also a practicing physiotherapist in the United States, echoed the message of the World Health Organization which says, “We give people the ability to do what they want to do in life." He said this is achieved by giving disabled people properly fitting wheel chairs. He noted that the Church is the largest wheel chair provider in the world, providing over 80,000 wheel chairs each year.

He said a wheel chair that are not properly fit is uncomfortable, cause sores and does not enable the disabled person to cover the distance they would like to travel. He further explained that this is the reason the LDS Church trains technicians and physical occupational therapists to assess the individuals and give them the right wheel chair that allows them to increase their mobility and ability to do what they want to do in life.

Elder Hunter stated that the Church works with partners. It provides the training and wheel chairs, while the partners like the Uganda National Wheel Chair Committee provides the technicians and therapists. He commended Uganda for being one of the best partner countries in the world, which he attributed to the cooperation of the Ministry of Health and partnering organizations. Funds for these type of services come from individual donations of Church members.

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